Headteacher

Week 8+

Dear Students, Colleagues, Families and Friends

We got here!!! Eight weeks of hard work – a mammoth of a term! – has now come to an end and I want to thank you all for your hard work!

I am really proud of our school. Whilst every school can, and should, always improve (and we are no different), I reflect on this term’s development of our practice, such as:

  • Our curriculum is exceptionally well planned and sequenced and we know that, no matter what the child’s current learning point, we know what is coming next and why, to stretch their knowledge and skills to help them learn even more!
  • Our provision is demonstrating brilliant examples of our implementation of academic studies, specialist support and development of life skills – our students’ holistic educational programmes lead to real successes are seen across the whole school.
  • Impact is clear to see: from early years, key stage 1, key stage 2, key stage 3, key stage 4, key stage 5 and nurture provision students – we are seeing improvements over-time in attendance, engagement, learning and progress. Congratulations to our students and thanks to everyone who helped them feel worthy, confident, able and successful.

The overall effectiveness has been helped by three long term objectives of my vision launched in 2016/17 school year:

  • Establish and embed a truly integrated multi-disciplinary team approach, with in-house specialists who work in united partnership with class-based staff on understanding and meeting the needs of all of our students
  • Establish and embed an effective research and development function which drives advocacy and progress for the young people with Autism by creating projects that act as a vehicle for positive change in the field of Autism
  • Improve all school facilities and create new spaces that meet the needs of our students – indoors and outdoors – so that we make the most of our site (whatever its limitations!) – we are uncompromising about the need to continually improve all of our school environment.

 

As we end this term, I thank you all for your hard work, support, encouragement and challenge. I wish you all a very restful October holiday and I look forward to seeing you all on Monday, 1 November 2021 for Term 2!

Happy holidays!

Mrs A Hildrey
Headteacher

Week 7+

Dear Students, Families and Colleagues

 

Welcome to the penultimate issue of the Head’s Weekly Newsletter for Term 1!

Huge thanks to everyone for this week’s work – what a brilliant team effort this week.

Sadly, we continue to be negatively affected by the Covid-19 and seasonal sickness and so, I wish all of our students and staff who are unwell at present a speedy recovery. I thank all those “still standing” for being so very flexible and hard-working – much appreciated!

Hopefully next week – week 8 of this year – will prove healthier.

Despite some of the above-mentioned challenges, the week was simply awesome! We read, wrote, counted, explored, experimented, cooked, travelled, exercised and reflected. We also talked – rather a lot. Some of the conversations, for some of the students, were their “firsts” and so, I celebrate here the first words said (ever) or first words ever said at school, or to (relative) strangers…. Others’ debates were fast, passionate, at times maybe furious – but, at all times, developmental, educational, mind-opening and perspective-changing. Such is the task of Education.

I, too, reflected on my own learning this week; there was plenty of it, believe me. I conclude this week by reminding myself that our life is a matrix of choices – some small, others significant and often life-changing.

Fundamentally, each time I made a choice at work this week, I remained very mindful of key guiding principles: What is the true issue I am trying to address? What do I want the outcome to be? What is the best choice here? Is this the morally/ethically right thing to do? What makes it so? What are the alternatives? What if I do nothing? What are the unintended consequences of my decision?

At times this week, the number of decisions that needed to be made – and most within minutes – felt overwhelming.

To remain focused, balanced, and quite frankly, well, one of the choices we all make in our line of work is: which aspects of today’s work am I going to allow to permeate into my life, and which parts must I leave behind, creating clear boundaries that not only protect me as a person, but also allow me to re-charge my batteries so that I have more “capacity to give” to my job tomorrow.

I know this is not just my reflection as a Headteacher, but one we all share in our busy lives.

With that in mind, I wish you all a happy,  restful and relaxing weekend and look forward to seeing you all next week for the last week of Term 1.

Kind regards

Mrs A Hildrey
Headteacher

Week 5+

Dear Students, Families and Colleagues

Welcome to this issue of the Head’s Weekly Newsletter!

I want to start by thanking all of my staff for their exceptional work this week – we all pulled together in one direction towards the shared vision and, despite the many challenges associated with Covid and other seasonal illness striking our community, we pulled through so impressively – thank you!

I also congratulate all of our students on their efforts and achievements over the past four weeks of learning. We have tonnes of talent in our student group this year and I am very impressed with ideas, inquiries, innovative proposals and critique, too. A truly inspiring young people indeed!

I wish to highlight one such young man today; his name is Jack and he is a student in our Canada Class. Jack was inspired by Zen Gardens seen in a popular genre of books and stories he engages with and, having explored our school site, he approached me with a proposal to transform yet another hidden corner of our grounds. I met with Jack this morning and listened to his ideas – all of which were not just sound, but also grounded in his deeply analytical appraisal of facilities available to the students. He spotted a unique opportunity to create a place which is the opposite of activity or play – a place of contemplation, calm reflection and…..sweet nothingness: a Zen Garden. We worked out an action plan, timescales and next steps and I cannot wait to meet Jack again in the first week of Term 2 to see his revised and costed proposals. I have a feeling he might be onto a winner! Great thinking and work, Jack!

I wish you all a restful weekend and I look forward to seeing you all next week.

Kind regards

Mrs A Hildrey
Headteacher

SEND Transport provision challenges and potential solutions

I wrote to all families this week sharing current pressures on the LCC SEND Transport and local taxi provisions, with an encouragement to see more families consider Personal Travel Budgets that would help with the transporting of students to school. Please see my letter here and contact sen.transport@liverpool.gov.uk if you are able to support this important transport sufficiency solution.

SEND Strategy Consultation

You are encouraged to get involved and have your say in the ongoing SEND Strategy consultation which will remain open until 15 October 2021:

https://smartsurvey.co.uk/s/SENDsufficiency

Key Diary Dates – Term 1 (1 September – 22 October 2021)

We write to you earlier this week about the planned events which will be taking place in school during this term.

Whilst the letter encapsulated all of the activities planned as of the time of writing to you, it may be that more fantastic opportunities, such as enrichment events and educational visits are planned moving forward. When this happens we will ensure that we inform families affected at the first opportunity.

Assessments taking place this term (for those students ready and able to access them):

  • Phonics Level/ Reading Age (dependant on level of the learner): by 8 October 2021
  • Maths Assessments: by 8 October 2021
  • Pupils attitudes to self and school: by 8 October 2021

Awareness days marked in classrooms:

  • ADHD Awareness Month: October 2021
  • World Dyslexia Day: 4 October 2021
  • National Poetry Day: 7 October 2021
  • World Mental Health Day: 11 October 2021
  • World Food Day: 15 October 2021

Family Consultation Week

  • W/c 11 October 2021

A member of your child’s class team will arrange a mutually convenient time to contact you by telephone during this week to discuss your child’s progress so far. They will be able to share the details of any assessment results, evaluate My Plan © targets and to jointly set new priorities for your child’s holistic education in Term 2.

If you have any questions about the key diary dates, please contact Mrs Tobin, Deputy Headteacher on deputy@abbotsleaschool.co.uk

October holidays

This is a reminder that the last day of Term 1 is Friday, 22 October 2021, with the normal finish time of 3pm.

We then all return to school on Monday, 1 November 2021 at the usual 9am start.

Week 4+

Dear Students, Families and Colleagues

Welcome to this issue of the Head’s Weekly Newsletter!

The autumn is here and with it a realisation that the summer holidays are a distant memory and the shops are re-focusing their sales onto Halloween and even, in the case of some outlets, on Christmas decorations! Time flies, doesn’t it?

The same applies to the life of the school, in many ways and we are seeing some events typical of this time of the year – having grouped students in what we believed were most compatible peer cohorts, we are learning that some may, whilst others might not be. We are also welcome new students whose admissions were being finalised in the first weeks of this term, as a result of similar movements in other organisations. Lastly, we are, inevitably, also experiencing staff prepare to make moves to their new roles – secured either just before, or during the summer break. I want to thank our colleagues leaving us this week for their service to the school and wish them all the very best for the future – I hope our paths cross again!

Whilst change described above is a normal part of a school like, none of us could predict the level of disruption to the transport provision in the city (and the country, as a whole). I am aware of the fact that many of our students have been subjected to transport disruptions and I want to assure you that we are working with the Local Authority on making things better, but there are very few solutions to the shortage of drivers and taxis. I thank every family for their support in transporting your child to school and I extend my thanks to my own team who have stepped in on many occasions when all else failed.

I wish you all a restful weekend and I look forward to seeing you all next week.

Kind regards

Mrs A Hildrey
Headteacher

 

SEND Strategy Consultation

You are encouraged to get involved and have your say in the ongoing SEND Strategy consultation which will remain open until 15 October 2021:

https://smartsurvey.co.uk/s/SENDsufficiency

Our Governing Body met yesterday, on Thursday, 23 September 2021 for an extraordinary meeting, to consider the proposals and to put forward our views and representation. Please find my letter summarising our collective stance.

Key Diary Dates – Term 1 (1 September – 22 October 2021)

We write to you earlier this week about the planned events which will be taking place in school during this term.

Whilst the letter encapsulated all of the activities planned as of the time of writing to you, it may be that more fantastic opportunities, such as enrichment events and educational visits are planned moving forward. When this happens we will ensure that we inform families affected at the first opportunity.

Assessments taking place this term (for those students ready and able to access them):

  • Visual Stress screener (where relevant): by 24 September 2021
  • Phonics Level/ Reading Age (dependant on level of the learner): by 8 October 2021
  • Maths Assessments: by 8 October 2021
  • Pupils attitudes to self and school: by 8 October 2021

Awareness days marked in classrooms:

  • Roald Dahl Day: 13 September 2021
  • Recycling Week: 20-24 September 2021
  • National Fitness Day: 22 September 2021
  • European Day of Languages: 27 September 2021
  • ADHD Awareness Month: October 2021
  • World Dyslexia Day: 4 October 2021
  • National Poetry Day: 7 October 2021
  • World Mental Health Day: 11 October 2021
  • World Food Day: 15 October 2021

Student Leadership opportunities:

  • Key Stage 4 and 5 Buddies application opens: w/c 13 September 2021
  • Student Council applications open: 17 September 2021

Family Consultation Week

  • W/c 11 October 2021

A member of your child’s class team will arrange a mutually convenient time to contact you by telephone during this week to discuss your child’s progress so far. They will be able to share the details of any assessment results, evaluate My Plan © targets and to jointly set new priorities for your child’s holistic education in Term 2.

If you have any questions about the key diary dates, please contact Mrs Tobin, Deputy Headteacher on deputy@abbotsleaschool.co.uk

Week 3+

Our weekly assemblies

Our assemblies are now taking place each Friday, in our school’s main hall, at the following times:

  • 10 – 9.30 – KS5
  • 35 – 9.55 – Primary and Nurture Provision
  • 05 – 10.25 – KS3 and Nurture Provision
  • 35 – 10.55 – KS4 and Nurture Provision

This not only allows for a greater relevance of the teaching input, promotes interaction during this learning session but also helps with the Covid-19 measures of greater social distancing in the hall.

Today’s inaugural sessions were fantastic and addressed literacy discussions inspired by Roald Dahl, whose special celebration day we embraced earlier this week.

I was also particularly pleased about today’s launch of the Student Council applications – I hope that many students will consider this fantastic leadership opportunity!

Assemblies continue to be closed events for now, but I look forward to opening them to families as soon as possible.

SEND Strategy Consultation

You are encouraged to get involved and have your say in the ongoing SEND Strategy consultation which will remain open until 15 October 2021:

https://smartsurvey.co.uk/s/SENDsufficiency

Our Governing Body will meet next Thursday, 23 September 2021 for an extraordinary meeting, to consider the proposals and to put forward our views and representation.

I will, as usual, share with you our leadership stance in due course.

Key Diary Dates – Term 1 (1 September – 22 October 2021)

We write to you earlier this week about the planned events which will be taking place in school during this term.

Whilst the letter encapsulated all of the activities planned as of the time of writing to you, it may be that more fantastic opportunities, such as enrichment events and educational visits are planned moving forward. When this happens we will ensure that we inform families affected at the first opportunity.

Assessments taking place this term (for those students ready and able to access them):

  • Visual Stress screener (where relevant): by 24 September 2021
  • Phonics Level/ Reading Age (dependant on level of the learner): by 8 October 2021
  • Maths Assessments: by 8 October 2021
  • Pupils attitudes to self and school: by 8 October 2021

Awareness days marked in classrooms:

  • Roald Dahl Day: 13 September 2021
  • Recycling Week: 20-24 September 2021
  • National Fitness Day: 22 September 2021
  • European Day of Languages: 27 September 2021
  • ADHD Awareness Month: October 2021
  • World Dyslexia Day: 4 October 2021
  • National Poetry Day: 7 October 2021
  • World Mental Health Day: 11 October 2021
  • World Food Day: 15 October 2021

Student Leadership opportunities:

  • Key Stage 4 and 5 Buddies application opens: w/c 13 September 2021
  • Student Council applications open: 17 September 2021

Family Consultation Week

  • W/c 11 October 2021

A member of your child’s class team will arrange a mutually convenient time to contact you by telephone during this week to discuss your child’s progress so far. They will be able to share the details of any assessment results, evaluate My Plan © targets and to jointly set new priorities for your child’s holistic education in Term 2.

If you have any questions about the key diary dates, please contact Mrs Tobin, Deputy Headteacher on deputy@abbotsleaschool.co.uk

Week 2+

Safeguarding and Positive Behaviour Support at Abbot’s Lea School

You will have received a letter from me – via Parentmail, as is the case with all communications this year – earlier this week, regarding our safeguarding commitment to our students. Whilst that letter was sent in response to a very concerning press report on an incident at another school, I wanted to summarise our safeguarding and positive behaviour support practices at our school and share with you escalation protocol, should anyone at all be concerned at any point about our work with the children and young people.

The letter can be found here and below is the summary of the key messages for your awareness:

http://www.abbotsleaschool.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Safeguarding-at-ALS-9.9.2021.pdf

To start with, my expectation as our school’s Headteacher is that every staff member working here is a positive role model and a proactive protector and advocate of children’s rights, completely focused on keeping them safe at all times.

We have robust recruitment, induction and training processes, with all staff – regardless of their role and previous work experience or training – undertaking safeguarding and Positive Behaviour Support training each year, with frequent refreshers and updates during the year.

When incidents occur – and they do occur as we have nearly 300 students with most complex needs in our society – we support them proactively and always in line with the methods of working approved.

If an incident occurs during which a student requires physical support to keep them or others safe and restrictive physical interventions (also known as restraint) is used, it will only be used as a last resort and in line with the Team Teach as our approved method of such support.

Adults involved in the incident debrief fully after it takes place and record fully what happened, who was involved and what could be done in the future to minimise the risk of the incident re-occurring.

If your child’s day at school was that difficult and there was an issue we believe you need to be alerted to – such as an incident or an accident – we will always aim to contact you before your child arrives home that afternoon.

If we are ever concerned about your child’s wellbeing or safety, we will contact you that same day. This contact will typically come directly from the Class Team, but might also come from a Key Stage Leader, or a member of the Multidisciplinary Team or our safeguarding team.

Equally, if at any point you become concerned about your child, you should always contact the Class Team in the first instant – most matters arising each day can be fully appraised by those who see your child every day and know exactly what your child’s day was truly like.

If your concerns are not resolved, please feel free to escalate them to either of my senior leaders supporting class teams:

Ms Alison Twomey, Head of Care and Safeguarding: alison.twomey@abbotsleaschool.co.uk

or

Mrs Emily Tobin, Deputy Headteacher: deputy@abbotsleaschool.co.uk

Whistleblowing

If you are ever concerned about any adults working with children behaving in a way that might be suspicious, inappropriate or unsafe, please contact me immediately and directly:

headteacher@abbotsleaschool.co.uk – this email is monitored all year round for any such safeguarding alerts and I will always respond within 24 hours of receipt.

If ever you believe that I, despite being the school’s Headteacher, am unsafe and I might pose the risk to children, you should raise your concerns without delay with the Chair of Governors, Mr Robert Lowe: robert.lowe@abbotsleaschool.co.uk.

In short – there is nobody in our school that is above the scrutiny, or indeed, above the law.

Quite the opposite: we are totally committed to safeguarding our students and keeping them safe in education and helping them keep safe in the community – we must all take this personal and collective duty seriously.

I do realise this may alarm some of you – this is not my intention. In fact, we regularly communicate on the topic of safeguarding with the students, staff and the families, including via this very platform of the Head’s Weekly Newsletter, but I felt it appropriate to capture our commitment and systems in the more formal letter in light of the aforementioned press information.

I trust this helps and reassures you at the start of this new academic year, which we hope will be happy, safe and successful for all.

School Development Plan

Our team’s plans for the coming year are captured in the School Development Plan 2021-22, the copy of which can be found here:

http://www.abbotsleaschool.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/School-Development-Plan-2021-22.pdf

You will note that we have a clear focus on:

  • – Our Students
  • – Our Team
  • – Our Resources

 

There will be a number of projects within each of the headings and I will keep you updated periodically about our progress.

More so, I will be looking to our students, their families, the team, our partners and our governors, to continue making suggestions about how we can make our school even better!

Watch this space!

SEND Strategy Consultation

There is a reason why the above School Development Plan (or SDP for short!) is only a 1-year plan at this point.

As you will recall, we initially consulted on a 3-year plan, but in light of the Liverpool City Council currently reviewing all of the SEND provision in the city, we felt it would be more prudent to focus on the things we know we can develop this year, whilst awaiting the outcome of the consultation.

We will, as a school, actively participate in the consultation and we will advocate, in any submissions made, on behalf of the students of Abbot’s Lea School, supporting the families – present and future and continuously encouraging our Local Authority to provide a better service to those living with Autism.

You, too, can get involved and have your say, so please do consider sharing your views with the LCC, by 15 October 2021 via:

https://smartsurvey.co.uk/s/SENDsufficiency

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